For the philosopher, the Truth must be a surprisingly intractable concept. Truth has been called subjective, relative and plural. Also intriguingly: Truth is relative and plural. Now I realize this is leading up to be a broad question, so let me emphasize I'm looking for answers on the narrowest interpretation of the question:

What is the contemporary understanding of: the Truth is plural, and is there other notable views?


Relativism: Who makes it true. - (a matter of perspective)

Pluralism: What makes it true. - (a matter of relevant properties)

But aren't these two functionally the same? (especially when used in conjunction). That is who decides it is true also implicitly decides what makes it true.

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    This is a bit too old to qualify as "conteporary," but Nietzche stated, "Reality is the illusions that we have forgotten are illusions." – Cort Ammon Dec 16 '18 at 20:06
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    some (maybe most) truth is relative.. but some.. who killed who.. or how much money was paid for a pint of beer... Are absolute. There are different types of truth.. some slippery.. some not so. – Richard Dec 16 '18 at 22:31
  • Relative truth is relative and uncertain. Direct unmediated knowledge or knowledge by identity is non-relative and may be certain. This distinction is made by most philosophers so I'm not sure why you would say truth is subjective, relative or plural. Who defines it in this way? . . – user20253 Dec 17 '18 at 12:24

True or false? :
    this is a duck...
    this is a rabbit...
enter image description here
(Google "multistable image" for more general discussions.
P.S. I'd have made this a comment, but couldn't add the image.)

    E d i t
And, just to add a dynamic version of the above static example of multistability,
True or false? :
    the logo is rotating clockwise...
    the logo is rotating counter-clockwise...
enter image description here enter image description here
Note that the left-side image rotation direction is "completely ambiguous", whereas the right-side image is completely unambiguous. However, the only difference between the images is their axis of rotation: up-and-down (screen-wise) for the left-side image, and out-of-the-screen for the right-side. And I can continuously vary that axis from one to the other, thereby making the "truth value" likewise vary continuously. For example, here's an "intermediate" axis,
enter image description here

And besides these images, there's that whole other
True or false? :
    the spoken word is yanny...
    the spoken word is laurel...

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    One may argue and say that the truth is that is neither a duck nor a rabbit, but a combination of white and black pixels. As for the logo, one may say that the truth is : it is not rotating at all, the pixels change their colors to look as if it is true that it is rotating. These examples are good for an examples in philosophy of mind , but 'truth' goes deeper than the subject of the 'seeming' of things, it is not about what seems to me or to you, it is about what is the case in the external world when neither I nor you are looking. – SmootQ Feb 16 '19 at 8:56
  • @SmootQ Sure, there's a posteriori truth about the external world, and also a priori mathematical/logical truth. Whether or not "'truth' goes deeper than the subject of the 'seeming' of things" (your words above) in the external world has actually become a matter of some dispute in physics. See, e.g., arxiv.org/abs/1902.05080 and google "qbism mermin" ( e.g., nature.com/news/… ) for a somewhat different approach to the same idea (though you'll probably have to read through several pages worth to get that idea). – user19423 Feb 17 '19 at 7:51
  • @SmootQ (continued) Re that arXiv article reporting experimental verification of the Wigner's-Friend thought experiment "where two observers can experience fundamentally different realities" (quoting from the abstract), I'd speculate its confirmation might have profound philosophical significance (though not so much for existing physical theory which could incorporate that idea pretty seamlessly -- the various versions/interpretations of "many worlds" haven't posed much of a problem). – user19423 Feb 17 '19 at 8:06
  • I agree, on the other hand these visual illusions raise questions on the epistemological level too : how do we know the truth about the external world? If our senses are not reliable +1 – SmootQ Feb 17 '19 at 9:07

Great question! But it's not answerable. By analogy, perfectly describing a football doesn't tell you the next Super Bowl winner. Neither does perfectly describing the entire NFL down to the last sinew, strategist, and blade of grass: the only way to find out is to wait and see who is going to win this time.

So it is with your question: it's a fool's errand to try to find "the" contemporary understanding of truth. Maybe the closest thing would be to see which philosopher at the conference gets the most eager handshakes after the speech.... or the least!

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    I wan't to know what it means to say: Truth is relative and plural. – christo183 Dec 18 '18 at 4:50
  • @christo183 I think it means... One man's terrorist.. is another man's freedom fighter. But not all truth is so subject to interpretation. – Richard Dec 19 '18 at 0:21

2+2 = 4

It does not equal 3, or 17, or 16i or 2/3 or 1.41

In this sense truth is not plural, it is singular.

Were one then to point out that 5+6=11. Then this is not an additional truth, making that singular truth plural by adding another to it; it's truth is of the same type.

Mathematical truths, despite its many truth, is a unity that proclaims the unity of its singular truth.

Likewise, the many truths of the world, and of men, all hang together in a unity when looked at rightly. However, gaining that perspective is a hard and difficult achievement granted only to a few. Most men see partial truths, and hence relative and plural ones.

  • I'll agree with Math and Logic, but claiming that all human 'truth' hangs together presumes a whole bunch of metaphysical stuff that is not really resolved. Furthermore it begs the question: Why are there so many? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth#Major_theories - And note it is philosophers that created the pluralist theories: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluralist_theories_of_truth – christo183 Jan 17 '19 at 7:16
  • @christo183 - I'm struggling to grasp why metaphysical truth is supposed to be plural. Philosophers generally agree about metaphysical results. They may have their own speculations but where it is a matter of logic they are forced to normalise. . – user20253 Jan 17 '19 at 11:45
  • Sqrt(4) is either 2 or -2. Isn't that an example of plural truths in math? – rus9384 Jan 17 '19 at 13:55
  • @rus9384: No, not really. It's the same situation that I described above. – Mozibur Ullah Jan 17 '19 at 17:10
  • @christo183: At this level one does not prove but demonstrate plausibility. – Mozibur Ullah Jan 17 '19 at 17:11

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